By Sylvester Thompson
The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), has resorted to digital means, in order to track and protect genuine and quality seeds from contamination.
Mr Chukwudi Madu, the technical expert in charge of the Codex, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, on how the Codex works in securing genuine seeds.
Madu said that the NASC engaged technical experts to design the NASC Seed Codex, a digital means of protecting and tracking seeds, in its bid to secure the genuineness of seeds.
Madu disclosed that they had been engaged in text authentication solutions, where unique codes were put on products.
“The codes are unique in the sense that, they don’t occur twice, once they are used; since each code has a one life span before it gets exhausted.
“It has been established that these codes are actually secure and reliable and are stored at our data base and allocated to products.
“Therefore, each time someone sends a text, the code automatically connects your device to our data base, by pulling information about that product,’’ Madu said.
According to the expert, when a message is sent to any particular number, it returns an original report about the product, without asking to find out from a second party.
The NASC, he said, from experience had been complaining that farmers were getting diseased, adulterated and low quality seeds.
He said though there was the idea of paper tags, yet farmers still could not distinguish the original from the fake paper tags, due to imitations.
“So we brought what we did in the drug sector to the agricultural sector, and attached the paper tags with electronic codes, which are then stuck on the pack of seeds.
“Now when the buyers make purchases, they no longer have to struggle to find out, if the tags are original but just to scratch the number and send it to 1393.
“Once this is done, the system responds immediately whether or not the product is original.
“Due to how the system had been programmed, a code used up to four times will bring a response that the code had been “flagged’’, meaning that something was wrong.
“In a situation like that, they would then begin investigations by tracking the contact, since each phone number and text are stored in data base.
“They can track exactly where the person was texting from and eventually bring in authorities to effect arrest, ” he said.
He said people can also track their supply chain as well. “For instance, if we allocate number one to 10 codes, to Kano. We know that one to 10 is going to Kano.’’
According to Madu, if the same codes allocated to Kano are found in Calabar or any other place, we are bound to know and investigate.
For further clarification, he gave another example in a situation where government decided to send seeds to a particular state, where farmers were experiencing flood.
“We put the tags on the bags and then the codes are dedicated to that state.
“If someone scratches and text from any other place, other than where the products were sent, they will be traced because everything has digital proof with electronic inputs.
” Now a farmer can simply ask for electronic tag on the pack of seeds, in order to text for confirmation of originality and quality,’’ he said.
He said that companies were also issued certificates by the NASC and these certificates carried unique electronic codes on them, which can also be verified.
He said the farmer or any buyer can go online and text the code, because everything on the product is tagged to electronic, seed and certificate.
On how the average farmer can go digital, Madu said the project for now has been restricted to texting, whereby the response brings every information about the pack.